PTRC | Planning a Visit

Using the Internet vs. Visiting a PTRC (or, Can I do this at home?)

  • Many of the patent or trademark questions you have may be answered from your own home or community in that you can search the USPTO patent and trademark databases at
  • Public libraries often offer computers with access to the Internet, which will enable you to search the USPTO web site.
  • The following types of searches may require you to make a trip to the NCSU Libraries:
    • Historical research: If you are searching for very old (turn of the 20th century) patents or trademarks issued to a specific person or entity, then you might need to come to the Hunt library and look at our print indexes. See our pages on finding older patents and trademarks.
    • Plant patents: If you are conducting research on plant patents, our collection of plant patent photographs may be useful. They are of excellent quality, and in color. Images of plant patents online are in black and white, and are generally of lesser quality.
    • Research literature databases: NCSU Libraries subscribes to science and technology research literature that may not be freely or widely available online. Some of these databases are available to visitors through guest computers.

Basic Computer Literacy Skills

  • In order to do a complete patentability search, you should be able to use a personal computer, mouse and keyboard; and comfortable browsing the Internet. If you need assistance with these basic aspects of computing, you might wish to contact your local public library and/or community center to inquire about classes that will help you develop these types of skills.

Background Reading Before Your Visit

  • You should read background information about obtaining patents and patent searching before you attempt to do your patentability search. We suggest reading a book like Patent it Yourself by David Pressman before you begin, so that you will have an understanding of the various steps involved in securing your patent.
  • See NCSU Libraries' Books on Intellectual Property and Related Topics

Scheduling Enough Time

  • The average patentability search takes between 25-30 hours.
  • If you are an inventor, be aware that the patent searching process takes a great deal of time and can be challenging to learn. Many people assume that they can visit the nearest Patent and Trademark Depository Library, sit down with a librarian, and an hour later have an answer as to whether or not their invention is patentable. You may need to make multiple visits, or investigate the possibility of searching from a computer closer to your home, such as a public library.


  • During regular academic semesters, the Hunt and Hill Libraries are open 24/5 to the NC State community. Be aware that guests are NOT admitted between 10 pm and 7 am. During these late hours, individuals must present a university ID at the entrance.
  • Check here for building hours on a particular day or holiday schedules.


  • Please make an appointment with the PTRC representative if you would like to meet with him during your visit. This meeting can happen at either D. H. Hill Library on NCSU's north campus or the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on NCSU's Centennial Campus, depending on your situation.